Grant County veterans memorial won’t call courthouse homePublished 11:06am Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Cooler heads prevail, as the saying goes, but sometimes differences are too great to reach an agreement.
That is the case for what was a planned veterans memorial in front of the Elbow Lake courthouse. After more than two years of disagreements, the local veterans group decided they will not build a memorial in a location allotted by the county.
“It’s been a long process and we have a resolution,” said county commissioner Tom Amundson. “I want to see something done.”
Original plans for the memorial reserved space directly in front of the courthouse, but after an assessment and designer evaluation, it was proposed to move the location just west of the sidewalk. The alternative location better displayed the courthouse, which is the city’s focal point.
The new proposal split many in the county, however, and the local veterans group felt as if they had been pushed aside.
In May, the Grant County Board received a historical analysis stating that both locations under the proposal went against the historical intent and best interest of the building. The analysis suggested two spots; one north of the building and one straight west. With the suggestions, the board passed a motion to follow the analysis.
Because the courthouse is part of the National Register of Historic Places, one of the major reasons for passing the motion was to keep from jeopardizing any future funds and grants, according to Amundson.
While it was only a short distance, it caused impassioned disagreement.
“The only real disagreement has been location,” said commissioner Todd Schneeberger. “I don’t think anyone said they didn’t want it on the courthouse grounds.”
That is, however, exactly what will happen now that the board has passed a motion to follow the recommendation, according to Clint Grove of the Grant County Veterans Memorial Support Organization.
“For us, the response is thanks, but no thanks. We aren’t going to build anything on the courthouse lawn,” Grove said. “It’s unanimous. We’re looking at other options.”
The group has two possible locations in mind, but Grove would not disclose them at this time. They will hold a series of meetings this fall to decide where the memorial will be built.
The group could wait until after elections in hopes the next board would pass their desired location, but Grove said time is an important factor.
“We don’t know for sure. We could wait until after the election, but we lose six to eight WWII veterans a year,” Grove said. Even if the board had a change of heart, he added, it would take too long to complete by the end of the year.
With both sides unable to find common ground, the decision has left bad feelings across the county.
“I’m sad we couldn’t make it happen. It would have been a great addition to the grounds,” Amundson said. “I would still welcome it, our decision stands that something could go there. There just has to be a compromise.”